Rules and variations (5)

plaza2 plaza

A grand square, some 12.000 sq m (3 acres), built some centuries ago by a powerful monarch: where, it is pointless here, why, it is obvious, but how, therein lies the rub.

The king was mighty and powerful, projecting that power beyond the seas; but even this power was not enough to impose his absolute will on the people living in the city where his court was. So he did what kings did at that time: he imposed a regular geometry for the square, but this regularity was not extended to the surroundings. This transition from regularity to clutter is solved through a regular layout of windows in the elevation, and through ground floor arcades.

Zoom to right now, as this square has become, as many its European sister spaces, a tourism magnet. And that regularity trick somehow still works. Shops and watering holes for visitors now mostly occupy ground floor, and upper levels are mainly homes. This is an attractive space, in part due to its contrast to the neighbouring areas, despite a somehow harsh surface.

Ground floor. 1: arcades, 2: shops, 3: restaurants and cafes, 4: storage, 5: public offices

Ground floor. 1: arcades, 2: shops, 3: restaurants and cafes, 4: storage, 5: public offices

One of the high levels. 1: appartments, 2: offices, 3:   teaching, 4: public adminitration

One of the high levels. 1: appartments, 2: offices, 3: teaching, 4: public adminitration

Some of the building use data in the diagrams are not exactly what exists nowadays in the square, but the overall situation is that one.

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